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Bed And Breakfast Management: Monitoring, Automation And Beyond

Feb 25, 2013

The Modern Bed and Breakfast

Bed and Breakfasts are a unique getaway for city dwellers and suburbanites alike; the allure of a countryside or rural vacation is a refreshing breeze to the trained and hyper-focused urban mind. For some, retiring to the countryside or to a Bed and Breakfast represents a break: a break from technology, routine annoyances, and the distractions that pile up from city life. Interestingly enough, many Inns and Motels are becoming increasingly sensitive to their technology-oriented guests. Owners and operators recognize that automation technology in particular, is a valuable asset for bothmanagement of property, as well as incoming guests. The expectations have been raised to an extent and the “new school” of Inns and Bed and Breakfasts are smarter, partially or wholly automated, and better managed.

“Guest-Driven” Automation Systems:

Many guests crave the ‘hands off’ technology experience when envisioning a quiet getaway. And yet, a balance of the ‘classic’ and ‘modern’ can be an ideal choice for Bed and Breakfast owners that would like to keep their prestige and homegrown flavor, while also enabling more efficient management. But how modern is ‘too modern’, and how smart is ‘too smart’ for the guests that desire the traditional experience?

Much of this is dependent on the function of your automation. If the goal is to put more power in the hands of the guests, allowing complete freedom and customization of their lodging, a robust or all-inclusive solution may be an attractive one. SmartThings is a recent Kickstarter project that provides this type of solution, and to quote their website “Imagine being able to control everyday things like your lights, fans, heaters, and disco balls from your mobile device. Simply installing SmartApps will allow you to monitor, control, automate and have fun with your things everywhere.” And surely enough, this system could allow guests tremendous freedom in personalizing their experience. Guests could adjust their lodging conditions easily from a Smartphone by using this system, and could automate settings (like temperature and lighting) to fit their ideal vacationing experience. 

In the future, guests may be in complete control of their lodging, and this could really drive the feeling of “home away from home”. Still, the ability to “set” certain features from a Smartphone or computer is a touch of ‘cool’ on a classic experience, but may not be practical for guests and cost-conscious owners.


Large-Scale Automation

A building automation system can be a highly efficient management tool. For instance, ICONICS’ FacilityWorX is a complete system that provides cost reduction, increased security, alarming, and increased energy efficiency. The question really becomes, whether the need for automation is holistic, or incremental in nature. Many Bed and Breakfasts cannot afford the cost of a sophisticated automation system, and many don’t need a feature-rich offering if the property is smaller and already well-maintained. Owners may require smaller solutions to confront these issues, and while holistic building automation makes a Bed and Breakfast “smart”, owners will likely seek simplicity and cost-effectiveness over complexity.

 Also, check out our FREE E-Book on Temperature Monitoring with extra tips for Property Management.

Incremental Automation

 The need for disco ball automation or complete building management is questionable to many owners (and rightfully so), but the fact remains: there are several important monitoring points in any Bed and Breakfast, and some of the smaller automation solutions can be extremely useful.

Energy is one example; an automation or monitoring solution that measures energy usage can help drive down costs, and an energy efficient property can be a nice “feature” that guests may appreciate. Still, even if guests aren’t the beneficiary, owners can appreciate these incremental solutions with the cost savings and control. As another example, temperature monitoring can be an important variable to consider (especially for those in sensitive climates). Owners that use a simple temperature monitoring device can be quickly alerted if rooms or lodgings are becoming unfit for guests. As the saying goes, a first impression goes a long way, and an overheated lodging is not ideal for a new guests. Simple security solutions, like SimpliSafe, are yet another way to ensure security on the property without investing in a complete (and expensive) solution.

For Bed and Breakfasts that have seasonal schedules, owners may also find themselves away from the property for several months out of the year. Again, the temperature of the property (boiler rooms, food storages, and guest rooms) is an important variable to monitor during the “off season”.  Temperature monitoring solutions are cost-effective, simple and can help drive down maintenance costs by alerting to a potential issue before it evolves into a problem.


Automation, or not?

The Bed and Breakfast of the future may utilize automation products to bring personalized comfort to guests, to simplify property management, or to safeguard against simple environmental concerns. For some, many automation products dwell in irrelevancy and are more of an extra.

Whatever the case may be, what automation techniques are you including in your own Bed and Breakfast, and how deep are you driving the concept of automation?  Let us know in the comments section!


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